While Sega's Shining Force RPG series has really changed quite a bit since its original inception, compared to its whored-to-death cousin Phantasy Star, I feel it has still gotten the better end of the stick. And with Sega, that is really all you can ask for.
Cue their latest announced entry into the series, Shining Hearts.
Tony Taka once again is at the helm of the art direction (which, yes, likely means art book and toy spinoffs for the next decade), but the game itself is actually taking cues from turn-based RPGs, rather than the SRPG or action-RPG treatment that we've been used to.
Famitsu has gone all out on the initial details, which you can find translated for your English-reading convenience below.
The Hero and the Three Daughters
The game's protagonist Rick (or 'Rikku' if you like Japanesey spellings) is a young wandering swordsman who, for reasons currently unknown, arrives on Windaria Island, and begins to work at a magical bakery (wow. that's a new one). There are three daughters who work with him at the bakery, and could be called the female protagonists. At the beginning of the game, you will be asked to choose one of the three. (Note: the article doesn't elaborate on this, so I can only guess at what you 'choose' the girl for.) However, based on your actions and choices throughout the game, the girls' feelings might change...?
The three girls are as follows (in order from left to right):
The Mysterious Girl Kaguya holds the key to this game's story. She washes ashore one morning after a terrible storm the night before, and is found in a state of memory loss and emotion loss. She is taken to the village clinic, and after devoted care, slowly begins to get some emotion back. From this, her heart's 'Soul Stone' produces a 'Heart Key,' which has the power to unlock the door to a new world...
The Pirate Dilan is the enigmatic leader of the pirate knighthood 'Arc Buccaneers.' It is currently unknown if he is friend or foe...
Windaria Island - The Centre of the Adventure
The game's stage is set on the lush Windaria Island. However, since the appearance of Kaguya, inevitable changes have begun, including the island itself changing shape, and the appearance of pirates after Kaguya's Soul Stone. You will embark on a journey to determine the reason for these changes by exploring various places, including a lava dungeon that appears from a field of flowers. It also appears that you will eventually venture beyond Windaria Island as well...
Communication with the Island's Residents
Various people live throughout the island, including elves and beast tribes. Some people may request you to undertake quests for them, so you are encouraged to talk to many people regularly. Additionally, there are various other ways to spend your time on the island, such as fishing.
Affinity with Your Companions is Essential in the New Battle System!?
In the game, various characters will join you in your quest besides the aforementioned Three Daughters, and you will be allowed to create battle parties of 4 characters. An orthodox command-based battle system allows anyone to enjoy the game's combat. Furthermore, you will be able to execute 'Combination Skills' with your companions, and characters' emotions will change depending on who you use Combination Skills with. More information will be coming regarding the battle system in later articles.
Hm. So far it sounds a little pedestrian to me, but I suppose the opportunity to build relationships with other characters could be fun if implemented well.
Shining Hearts will be available in Japan for PSP sometime this Winter.